August 21, 2017

Colorado Supreme Court: Crim. P. 32 Does Not Authorize Withdrawal of Guilty Plea After Completion of Deferred Judgment

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Corrales-Castro on Monday, June 5, 2017.

Criminal Law—Withdrawal of Guilty Plea—Crim.P. 32(d)—Guilty Pleas—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Deferred Judgment.

Osvaldo Corrales-Castro pleaded guilty to criminal impersonation and received a one-year deferred judgment. He successfully complied with the terms of the deferred judgment, and in May 2010, the court withdrew his guilty plea and the charge was dismissed with prejudice pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-1.3-102(2), which provides that, upon “full compliance with [the conditions of a deferred judgment],” the guilty plea previously entered “shall be withdrawn and the charge upon which the judgment and sentence of the court was deferred shall be dismissed with prejudice.” In 2013, Corrales-Castro filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea pursuant to Crim. P. 32(d), which authorizes “a motion to withdraw a plea of guilty . . . before sentence is imposed or imposition of sentence is suspended.” The district court denied the motion and the court of appeals reversed, holding that Crim. P. 32(d) authorizes the withdrawal of an already withdrawn plea. The supreme court held that the plain terms of Rule 32(d) require a plea to exist for it to be withdrawn. Therefore, Crim. P. 32(d) does not authorize withdrawal of Corrales-Castro’s plea. Accordingly, the supreme court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Completion of Deferred Judgment Withdraws Guilty Plea as Matter of Law

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Espino-Paez v. People on Monday, June 5, 2017.

Criminal Law—Withdrawal of Guilty Plea—Crim.P. 32(d)—Guilty Pleas—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Deferred Judgment.

Jose Espino-Paez pleaded guilty to the use of a schedule II controlled substance and received a deferred judgment. When he successfully completed the terms of the deferred judgment, his guilty plea was withdrawn and the charge was dismissed with prejudice. In 2012, Espino-Paez filed a motion to withdraw his plea pursuant to Crim. P. 32(d). The district court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed, holding that the district court had no authority to withdraw the plea because it had already been withdrawn. For the reasons discussed in the lead companion case, People v. Corrales-Castro, 2017 CO 60, ___ P.3d ___, announced the same day, the supreme court held that the plain terms of Rule 32(d) require a plea to exist for it to be withdrawn. Therefore, Crim. P. 32(d) does not authorize withdrawal of Espino-Paez’s plea. Accordingly, the supreme court affirmed the court of appeals’ judgment.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea Properly Denied After Completion of Deferred Judgment

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Zafiro-Guillen v. People on Monday, June 5, 2017.

Criminal Law—Withdrawal of Guilty Plea—Crim.P. 32(d)—Guilty Pleas—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Deferred Judgment.

Edgar Zafiro-Guillen pleaded guilty to possession of one gram or less of a schedule II controlled substance in exchange for a two-year deferred judgment. In 2009, upon successful completion of the terms of the deferred judgment, the district court withdrew Zafiro-Guillen’s guilty plea and dismissed the case with prejudice. In 2013, Zafiro-Guillen filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea pursuant to Crim. P. 32(d). The district court denied the motion, holding it lacked jurisdiction. The court of appeals affirmed. For the reasons discussed in the lead companion case, People v. Corrales-Castro, 2017 CO 60, ___ P.3d ___, announced the same day, the supreme court held that the plain terms of Rule 32(d) require a plea to exist for it to be withdrawn. Therefore, Crim. P. 32(d) does not authorize withdrawal of Zafiro-Guillen’s plea. Accordingly, the court affirmed the court of appeals’ judgment.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Guilty Plea Cannot be Withdrawn Once Deferred Judgment Completed

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Roman on Monday, June 5, 2017.

Criminal Law—Withdrawal of Guilty Plea—Crim.P. 32(d)—Guilty Pleas—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Deferred Judgment.

Eloisa Roman pleaded guilty to criminal impersonation and received a two-year deferred judgment. She successfully completed her deferred judgment, and her plea was withdrawn and the case was dismissed. In 2013, she filed a motion under Crim. P. 32(d) seeking to withdraw her plea. The trial court denied her motion, and the court of appeals reversed, holding that Rule 32(d) authorized the district court to withdraw Roman’s previously withdrawn plea. For the reasons discussed in the lead companion case, People v. Corrales-Castro, 2017 CO 60, ___ P.3d ___, announced the same day, the supreme court held that the plain terms of Rule 32(d) require a plea to exist for it to be withdrawn. Therefore, Crim. P. 32(d) does not authorize withdrawal of Roman’s plea. Accordingly, the court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Successful Completion of Terms of Deferred Judgment Automatically Withdraws Guilty Plea by Operation of Law

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Flores-Heredia v. People on Monday, June 5, 2017.

Criminal Law—Withdrawal of Guilty Plea—Crim. P. 32(d)—Guilty Pleas—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Deferred Judgment.

Jesus Flores-Heredia pleaded guilty to inducement and conspiracy to sell and possess with intent to sell a schedule II controlled substance, and he received a one-year deferred judgment in 1990. Although he successfully completed the deferred judgment in 1991, no court ever ordered his plea withdrawn or the action against him dismissed pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-1.3-102(2), which provides that, upon “full compliance with [the conditions of a deferred judgment]” the guilty plea previously entered “shall be withdrawn and the charge upon which the judgment and sentence of the court was deferred shall be dismissed with prejudice.” In 2014, Flores-Heredia filed a motion to withdraw his plea pursuant to Crim. P. 32(d). The district court concluded that because no order had been entered withdrawing Flores-Heredia’s plea and dismissing the charge under C.R.S. § 18-1.3-102(2), it would enter such an order. The court then denied the Rule 32(d) motion, concluding that it could not withdraw the plea because the plea had already been withdrawn.

The supreme court held that C.R.S. § 18-1.3-102(2) requires that a plea be deemed withdrawn and the charge dismissed once the deferred judgment is successfully completed, and when an order to this effect is not entered, it occurs by operation of law as mandated by C.R.S. § 18-1.3-102(2). Therefore, Flores-Heredia’s plea was withdrawn by operation of law when he successfully completed the deferred judgment in 1991. Further, for the reasons discussed in the lead companion case, People v. Corrales-Castro, 2017 CO 60, ___ P.3d ___, announced the same day, the supreme court held that the plain terms of Rule 32(d) require a plea to exist for it to be withdrawn. Therefore, Crim. P. 32(d) does not authorize withdrawal of Flores-Heredia’s plea. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court’s judgment.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure Amended by Rule Change 2017(02)

On Wednesday, March 8, 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced Rule Change 2017(02), affecting the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure. The rule change amends Crim. P. 49.5 by changing the website for the court’s electronic filing system. The Comment to Rule 49.5 was also changed, and a 2017 comment was added as follows:

 [4] Effective November 1, 2016, the name of the court authorized service provider changed from the “Integrated Colorado Courts E-Filing System” to “Colorado Courts E-Filing” (www.jbits.courts.state.co.us/efiling/).

Rule Change 2017(02) was adopted and effective March 2, 2017. The full text of the rule change is available here. For all the Colorado Supreme Court’s adopted and proposed rule changes, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant Entitled to At Least a Hearing on Ineffective Assistance Claims

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Hunt on Thursday, June 16, 2016.

Postconviction Relief—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Transferred Intent—Complicity.

Defendant was charged with first degree “after deliberation” murder, first degree “extreme indifference” murder, conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a weapon by a previous offender, and three crimes of violence (sentencing enhancement) counts. Under a plea agreement, defendant pleaded guilty to an added count of second degree murder and to one of the original crime of violence counts in exchange for (1) the dismissal of the remaining charges and (2) a stipulated sentence of between 30 and 40 years’ imprisonment.

Defendant later wrote two letters to the district court asking to withdraw his guilty plea. He asserted that he was not guilty of murder because he had not intended for the shooter to kill the victim and his attorney had erroneously advised him that he could, if tried, be found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment under a complicity theory. Plea counsel then filed a motion to withdraw from the case based on an alleged conflict of interest and asked the court to allow defendant to withdraw his guilty plea. Following a hearing, the court found no conflict of interest and directed counsel to file a Crim. P. 32(d) motion to withdraw guilty plea on behalf of defendant. Counsel filed the motion three days later. The court did not address the motion and sentenced defendant to 40 years’ imprisonment.

Defendant subsequently filed two pro se Crim. P. 35(c) motions for postconviction relief based on ineffective assistance of plea counsel, again alleging that he had been incorrectly advised that he could be found guilty of murder as a complicitor simply because he was present when a person he had not intended to be killed was killed. The court appointed new counsel who expounded on defendant’s claims, and the court, without a hearing, denied the motions for postconviction relief.

On appeal, defendant argued that he was entitled to a hearing on his ineffective assistance of counsel assertions, and the Court of Appeals agreed. An ineffective assistance of counsel claim requires a defendant to establish that counsel’s performance fell below the level of reasonably competent assistance demanded of attorneys in criminal cases and that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. A hearing is required unless the record establishes that the allegations, if proven true, would fail to establish either of these conditions. Here, defendant argued that he was not aware that the shooter intended to kill someone other than a person whom defendant wanted to kill. If true, these facts would not support a conviction for first or second degree murder under a complicitor theory, and failure to advise defendant of this could have constituted deficient performance on the part of plea counsel. Because there was no hearing to determine what plea counsel advised defendant and what the professional norms were, or whether defendant would have pleaded guilty anyway, the case was remanded for an evidentiary hearing on this issue. Remand is also necessary for an evidentiary hearing on defendant’s claim that plea counsel was ineffective for failing to advise him about appealing the ruling denying his Crim. P. 35(c) motion to withdraw the guilty plea.

The order was reversed and the case was remanded.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Appellate Rules and Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure Amended by Colorado Supreme Court

On Tuesday, November 3, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court issued Rule Change 2015(09) and Rule Change 2015(10). Rule Change 2015(09) amends Rules 36, 37, 38, and 39 of the Colorado Appellate Rules. Rule Change 2015(10) amends Rule 17 of the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The changes to the Colorado Appellate Rules are extensive. Much of the text of Rule 36, “Entry and Service of Judgment,” was deleted, and the comment notes that the rule was amended for brevity and to conform to the current practice of the courts. The changes to Rule 37, “Interest on Judgments,” are relatively minor, changing syntax and clarifying instructions. Rule 38, “Sanctions,” was significantly amended, and a 2015 comment was added. The comment notes that prior subsections (b), (c), and (e) of the rule were deleted and the relevant portions thereof were added to subsection (a), and prior subsection (d) was renumbered. The comment further clarifies that the statement in former subsection (b) about the court dispensing with oral argument was deleted because it is always within the court’s discretion to dispense with oral argument. Rule 39, “Costs,” also underwent significant revisions and now contains a 2015 comment. The comment to Rule 39 notes that the rule was changed, in part, to be consistent with Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 39, which governs costs. The comment further clarifies that the changes shift responsibility for taxing costs from the appellate courts to the trial courts, which reflects the current practice of the courts. The comment outlines specific numbering changes to Rule 39.

The changes to Crim. P. 17, “Subpoena,” are relatively minor, adding electronic signatures to acceptable methods of waiver of service.

For a redline of Rule Change 2015(09), click here. For a redline of Rule Change 2015(10), click here. For all of the Colorado Supreme Court’s adopted and proposed rule changes, click here.

Changes Announced to Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure and Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure

Colorado Court SealOn Monday, June 1, 2015, the Colorado State Judicial Branch released Rule Change 2015(04) and Rule Change 2015(05). Rule Change 2015(04) amends Rule 32, “Sentence and Judgment,” of the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure. The changes are significant and amend many procedural aspects of sentencing. The changes were adopted and effective May 22, 2015.

Rule Change 2015(05) amends the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. The changes are extensive and mirror the changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. According to the new Comment to Rule 1, “The 2015 amendments are the next step in a wave of reform literally sweeping the nation. This reform movement aims to create a significant change in the existing culture of pretrial discovery with the goal of emphasizing and enforcing Rule 1’s mandate that discovery be administered to make litigation just, speedy, and inexpensive. One of the primary movers of this reform effort is a realization that the cost and delays of the existing litigation process is denying meaningful access to the judicial system for many people.” The rule change also added a new form, JDF 622, “Proposed Case Management Order.” The changes were adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court on May 28, 2015, and are effective July 1, 2015, for cases filed on or after July 1, 2015.

On Thursday, June 25, 2015, CLE will host a program to discuss the new rule changes and what they will mean for Colorado attorneys. Richard Holme, Hon. Thomas Kane, and Hon. Michael Berger will discuss the new rules and their significance. Don’t miss this important opportunity to learn about the requirements of the new Rules.

NEW Rules of Civil Procedure in Colorado: Effective July 1, 2015

To register for the live program, click here. To register for the webcast, click here. To register for the video replay on July 17, click here.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here — CDMP3Video OnDemand

Colorado Court of Appeals: Ineffective Assistance Claims Improperly Asserted in Crim. P. 33 Motion

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Lopez on Thursday, April 23, 2015.

Assault—Menacing—Obstructing a Peace Officer—Jury Instruction—Attempt—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Crim.P. 33.

Defendant assaulted his wife and broke her clavicle. A uniformed officer found defendant outside the hospital. When the officer attempted to speak to him about his wife’s injuries, defendant became aggressive and threatening toward the officer. A jury convicted defendant of second-degree assault causing serious bodily injury, menacing by the use of a deadly weapon, and obstructing a peace officer.

On appeal, defendant contended that the evidence was insufficient to establish that he committed the crime of menacing against the police officer. Evidence showed that defendant made a threat and that he placed or attempted to place the first officer in fear of imminent serious bodily injury by telling her he had a knife and approaching her in an aggressive manner. This was sufficient to support a conviction for misdemeanor and felony menacing.

Defendant contended that the record did not contain sufficient evidence to support the conviction for obstructing a peace officer because the officer had not arrested nor intended to arrest defendant at the time. The obstructing statute is not limited to officers making arrests, and there was sufficient evidence that defendant’s conduct violated the obstructing statute even though the first officer did not arrest him.

Defendant also argued that the trial court erred when it instructed the jury on criminal attempt, even though the prosecution had not charged defendant with attempt. Because defendant was charged with menacing, and menacing includes the element of attempt, the court did not err in instructing the jury on the definition of attempt.

Defendant argued that the trial court erred when it denied his motion for a new trial because his trial counsel had been ineffective. Because defendant raised this as a Crim.P. 33 motion instead of a Crim.P. 35(c) motion, the trial court’s decision to deny defendant’s Crim.P. 33 motion without a hearing was reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The Court of Appeals found that the trial court’s rulings were not manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, or unfair because defendant failed to prove prejudice based on any alleged errors. The judgment was affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Minor Change to Colo. R. Crim. P. 44 Announced

On Thursday, March 26, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court announced Rule Change 2015(03), which amended Rule 44 of the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure. The change affects subsection (a) of the rule, and the only change was to update a cross-reference from C.R.C.P. 226 to C.R.C.P. 205.7. For a redline of the rule change, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: No Error in Denial of Crim. P. 35(c) Postconviction Relief Motion

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Romero on Thursday, February 12, 2015.

Crim.P. 35(c)—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Fifth Amendment—Sixth Amendment—Right to Counsel—Competency—Prosecutorial Misconduct.

Romero was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting A.S. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Crim.P. 35(c), which was denied without a hearing.

On appeal, Romero contended that attorney F.G. ineffectively assisted him during his police interview when he failed to advise Romero of the consequences of submitting to police interrogation and a polygraph test. Romero’s Fifth Amendment right to counsel had not attached because the police interview was not custodial. Romero’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel had also not attached because Romero had not yet been charged. Accordingly, Romero’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim with regard to F.G.’s pre-indictment representation failed.

Romero contended that F.G. ineffectively assisted him during trial because F.G. visited Romero in jail and improperly advised him. Because F.G. did not represent Romero during any critical stages of the case, did not help him prepare his defense, and did not otherwise appear on his behalf, the constitutional guarantee of effective assistance did not apply. Accordingly, Romero’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim with regard to F.G.’s post-indictment advice also failed.

Romero further contended that D.J. and R.C. ineffectively assisted him when they (1) allowed him to be tried while incompetent, and (2) failed to object contemporaneously to alleged prosecutorial misconduct at trial. The record reflects that defense counsel raised the issue of Romero’s competency numerous times, and the court made adequate rulings on the record each time. In regard to Romero’s claims of prosecutorial misconduct, even assuming that the prosecutor’s statements were improper and that counsel’s failure to object constituted deficient performance, Romero failed to allege facts demonstrating prejudice. Therefore, the post-conviction court did not err in dismissing these claims without an evidentiary hearing. The order was affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.